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We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most for you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and not meant to be an exhaustive look at all of the recent happenings around the league.
Robert Griffin III III is getting closer to returning from the ankle injury. He practiced in a limited fashion last week and could return this week. This came just a day after Washington head coach Jay Gruden said Griffin will be the team's starting quarterback once he is cleared and "ready physically and mentally." We have thrown cold water on the Kirk Cousins love all along and it is good to see the coach agree. How bad has Cousins played? The answer was Colt McCoy replaced Cousins last week against Tennessee and led his team to victory. Now, McCoy is the starter until Griffin returns. To review, McCoy replaced Cousins in the third quarter and promptly threw a 70-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. The journeyman quarterback completed his first six passes for 90 yards and the score. He ended the game completing 11 of 12 for 128 and the touchdown to Garcon. The only owners picking up McCoy in dynasty leagues are either desperate from injuries or ones with short enough memories not to remember the ex-Texas star's struggles in Cleveland.
The Arizona Republic was the first to report that the Cardinals have opened contract extension talks with contract-year quarterback Carson Palmer. A team who views itself as a Super Bowl contender cannot allow the veteran to reach free agency. Palmer is in the driver's seat in the negotiations. The possible outcomes are: he gets a new deal, gets slapped with the Franchise Tag, or receives a contract with another team. All three options should pay handsomely. With the Cardinals in firm control of the division, expect Arizona to try to keep this from being a distraction down the stretch.
With Johnny Manziel waiting in the wings, the Cleveland Browns have shown no interest in extending quarterback Brian Hoyer's contract. Hoyer has played well, efficiently leading the offense without Josh Gordon. Hoyer is a candidate to start for another team in 2015 even with the poor performance against Jacksonville Sunday. His strong play for the first five games outweighs the underwhelming showing a couple of days ago. Hoyer still has a strong hold on to the starter's job.
Last week, Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt that quarterback Jake Locker will be the team's starting quarterback when he returns from the hand injury. Dynasty owners are anxious to see Zach Mettenberger play. Hopefully, his time will come this season.
This past weekend, beat writer Mike Klis, said Broncos tailback Montee Ball's groin injury "will make it difficult for him to regain his featured-back role this year." The implications are two-fold. First off, Ball is several weeks away from returning to action. In addition, Ronnie Hillman has performed at a higher level than Ball and looks to be the long-term starter for the Broncos.
We have expected this all along, but fans and fantasy owners were shocked last week when the St. Louis Rams used a committee. Then, during the week, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, "Early in the game, we try to get guys multiple touches … then we try to go with the hot hand late in the game." The drafting of Tre Mason should have been a clear sign that Zac Stacy's job is not secure. Then, against the Seahawks, Stacy only played one snap while Mason dominated the playing time.
The San Diego Chargers are happy that rookie tailback Branden Oliver is playing well. Donald Brown still has not been cleared from his concussion. Ryan Mathews has yet to be cleared to resume running after his MCL injury. We do not expect Mathews back before the team's Week 10 bye. With the Chargers hopeful for a deep playoff run, the team may look to not rush the talented runner back to action.
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was placed on injured reserve after tearing both his ACL and MCL. Making things even more disappointing for Ridley is that he will be a free agent after the season. Many expected Brandon Bolden to replace Ridley in the lineup. But, he rarely saw the field on offense in the Thursday night contest against the New York Jets. Others thought rookie James White would get the call. But, White was a healthy scratch. It was Jonas Gray, just called up from the practice squad, who played the “power back” role vacated by Ridley. The big winner was Shane Vereen, who was used as a weapon out of the backfield. This is a fluid situation – like always with New England – but it appears to be Vereen and Gray …. for now.
Last week, the Miami Dolphins placed tailback Knowshon Moreno on injured reserve after tearing his ACL. Moreno is another back who will be a free agent after the season. It is a sad ending to the year for Moreno. He had a great start to the season before hurting his elbow. Then, in his first game back from that injury, Moreno suffered the knee injury. This leaves Lamar Miller as the unquestioned primary back in Miami. We would not be surprised to see Moreno back in Denver for the 2015 season.
The Buffalo Bills had a disastrous weekend for the running back position. First, Fred Jackson was carted off the field with a groin injury. He is expect back in three or four weeks. Then, C.J. Spiller broke his collarbone and now is lost for the remainder of the season. Spiller is yet another potential free agent injured in his last season under contract. Expect Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon to split the work until Jackson gets healthy. Neither are great plays so do not go wild in trade talks.
Filed in the “what was he thinking” section, Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was arrested for stealing some underwear and a cologne demo from Dillard's department store. This was sad news for a player who has played very well when called upon this season. Randle is making $495,000 in 2014 and will be fined by the team a “significant” amount, according to coach Jason Garrett.
Calvin Johnson is an amazing player. He has played through numerous injuries over the years. Last week, Johnson said there was still "lingering pain" in his sprained ankle. This is not good news. Johnson also told reporters that he would not return to action until he can perform at a high level. With the Lions' chances of a playoff run, anchored by the stifling defense, a healthy and rested Johnson would give quite the advantage. We do not expect him to play in the game this week in London, although he did make the trip.
It has been a crazy week in the NFL and the biggest news was the Seattle Seahawks trading receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets in exchange for a conditional mid-round draft pick. Seattle gave Minnesota a first round pick for Harvin, then gave him a huge contract. So, for Seattle to “give” him away so cheaply, there has to be more to the story. There are multiple reports of “anger management” issues, including fights with teammates and even a refusal to re-enter the game against the Dallas Cowboys. It just became too much. The implications for the Seahawks are more targets for Doug Baldwin and possibly more playing time for rookies Paul Richardson Jr and Kevin Norwood. For the Jets, Harvin's presence should help quarterback Geno Smith. Eric Decker will see fewer targets. This was a great move for New York general manager John Idzik. He gets a talented player for little in return.
After the gruesome injury on Sunday evening, the New York Giants placed receiver Victor Cruz on injured reserve with a torn right patellar tendon. Cruz will need an extensive rehabilitation and there is risk he will never regain the burst of pre-injury. However, the expected recovery timetable puts Cruz available for the Giants 2015 training camp.
Last week, the Cincinnati Bengals finally placed receiver Marvin Jones on injured reserve with left foot and ankle injuries. This was after he visited a specialist earlier in the week. The move of Jones to injured reserve came just a few days after coach Marvin Lewis told reporters he was frustrated by the lack of progress in Jones' recovery.
Jacksonville has a young receiving corps, filled with three rookies and Cecil Shorts. As Marqise Lee rounds into shape, we expect him to see more snaps. Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch agreed last week when he said the rookie's role will grow. Fisch said, "Marqise didn’t have much [playing time], his practice time was cut short so I don’t think you throw him in there." The duo of Allen Robinson and Lee will give the Jaguars a potent pair of pass catchers for the future.
Even with the short week, receiver Aaron Dobson was a healthy scratch, again. Rookie Brian Tyms, who earned "rave reviews" from Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels earlier in the week, saw little action himself. It appears that New England will will go with Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola going forward. In addition, the emergence of tight end Timothy Wright means fewer receivers on the field. We see Tyms' role growing over the rest of the season. As far as Dobson, he is buried deep in Belichick's doghouse.
Injuries to monitor
- Robert Griffin III III: Ankle
- Carson Palmer: Neck
- Matt Cassel: Foot
- Knowshon Moreno: Knee
- Montee Ball: Groin
- Ryan Mathews: Knee
- Stevan Ridley: Knee
- Andre Ellington: Foot
- Rashad Jennings: Knee
- C.J. Spiller: Collarbone
- Fred Jackson: Groin
- Danny Woodhead: Ankle
- DeSean Jackson: Shoulder
- Victor Cruz: Knee
- Alshon Jeffery: Hamstring
- Brandon Marshall: Ankle
- Cecil Shorts: Hamstring
- Marvin Jones: Foot/Ankle
- Marqise Lee: Hamstring
- Jimmy Graham: Shoulder
- Jordan Cameron: Shoulder
- Tyler Eifert: Elbow
- Jordan Reed: Hamstring
- Kyle Rudolph: Groin/ Sports Hernia
- Marcedes Lewis: Ankle
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well. Subscribe to the Footballguys Dynasty-centered Google Hangouts